Nokia Lumia 920 phone review - Where to Buy

By on December 2, 2012

The hero device for Windows Phone 8?

Nokia Lumia 920 phone review
The smartphone landscape is going to get very interesting this upcoming year. For the last few years, RIM, Apple and Google have been the dominant players locally however Microsoft is slowly, but surely gaining traction. With the exceptional manufacturing expertise that Nokia brings to the table, we find out how far Windows Phone has come along when paired with it’s hero product- the Nokia Lumia 920.

Packaging


Nokia continues to follow their recent style of packaging with the Lumia 920- a blue colored brick shaped box that showcases the phone in the multiple colors it is available in: Grey, Yellow, Red, White and Black. Inside the box, you have the SIM tray pop-out tool, a USB plug and a charging cable along with a pair of earbuds matching the color of your phone.



Build Quality and Design


I received the Lumia 920 in Yellow which was the color that caught my attention when Nokia first announced the phone. After playing with almost all the colors at different events, I can’t really make up my mind over which one looks the best as they are all very attractive and vibrant. Like some of the previous Nokia phones, the polycarbonate body that is used for the construction of the Lumia devices prevents scratches from wearing the color off.


Measuring 130.3 x 70.8 x 10.7 mm and weighing 185g, the Lumia 920 is can definitely not be classified in the thin and light category. The back side is curved with the thickest point in the center making the device feel a bit less fat in your hand, however, the chunkiness of the phone definitely weighs in your pockets. However, like any large and heavy phone, it becomes less noticeable as the days go by. On the top of the device, you can see the 3.5mm audio port along with the pop-out micros sim tray while the right side houses all the buttons- volume keys, power/lock button and a dedicated camera button. At the bottom you can find the micro USB connector as well as a pair of speakers on either side of it.

Specs and Comparison


Unlike Google, Microsoft very much controls the specs of devices that are allowed to run Windows Phone 8. What this means is that you will probably never find Windows Phone 8 running on bleeding-edge hardware like the latest quad core processors or ultra hi-res displays. However, specs only make up half the story- optimization of hardware on the OS and apps level can make lesser hardware run faster and that is an area that Microsoft has put a lot of effort in. With a UI that never dips below 60fps, Windows Phone “feels” faster than many Android phones with better configuration. Nokia has also added some cool features such as Wireless Charging and NFC tapping for pairing the phone with accessories.


The Nokia Lumia 920 sits on top of the hardware specs list that Microsoft has certified for Windows 8 and the following table compares it with the HTC 8X as well as the Android based Samsung Galaxy Note II that we recently looked at.

















































































Nokia Lumia 920 HTX Windows 8X Samsung Galaxy Note II
Dimensions 130.3 x 70.8 x 10.7 mm 132.4 x 66.2 x 10.1 mm 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm
Weight 185g 130g 183g
Screen Size 4.5" IPS TFT ClearBlack
768 x 1280 res, 332ppi
4.3" SLCD2
720 x 1280 res, 342ppi
Super AMOLED 5.5″
720 x 1280 res, 267ppi
Processors Qualcomm MSM8960 SnapDragon
Adreno 225
Qualcomm MSM8960 SnapDragon
Adreno 225
Exynos 4412
Mali-400MP
Max Speed 1.5GHz Dual Core 1.5GHz Dual Core 1.6GHz Quad Core
RAM 1GB 1GB 2GB
Storage 32GB 16GB 16/32/64GB + MicroSD
OS Windows Phone 8 Windows Phone 8 Android 4.1
Connectivity HSDPA 42.2 Mbps
HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
LTE Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL
802.11a/b/g/n dual-band Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 3.1
NFC
HSPA+
HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
LTE Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL
802.11a/b/g/n dual-band Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 3.1
NFC
HSDPA 21 Mbps
HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
LTE Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL
802.11a/b/g/n dual-band Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 4.0
NFC
Camera 8 MP Carl Zeiss with OIS
1.3MP
1080p @ 30fps
8 MP
2.1MP
1080p @ 30fps
8 MP
1.9MP
1080p @ 30fps
Battery Li-Ion 2000 mAh Li-Ion 1800 mAh Li-Ion 3100 mAh
Price AED 2349 AED 1999 AED 2499

 

Screen and UI and Apps


The Nokia Lumia features a 4.5” screen with a 728 x 1280 resolution which is currently the highest resolution supported by Windows Phone. That gives it a PPI of 332 bringing it in line with the pixel density of the iPhone and higher-end Android devices. Nokia uses an IPS panel with ClearBlack display that provides for a gorgeous display with colors that pop. The screen more readable in direct sunlight so where most phones pale in the UAE sun, the Lumia continues to be very readable.

While there are a few changes to Windows Phone from v7.5, overall, the look and feel of Windows Phone 8 remains similar to its predecessors. In fact, Microsoft has adopted the same look for their Windows 8 desktop OS as well as their Xbox making it the standard for all Microsoft products for the next few years. While I won't comment on the desktop or Xbox functionality, the modern UI looks beautiful on a phone and is very usable and innovative.


You can see the minor changes in Windows Phone 8 right from the lock screen which now allows apps to feed content to the background as well as notifications. So now you can, for example, have a sports app that updates your lock screen’s background with the score of your favorite team’s latest game. The notifications which previously only showed missed phone calls or new messages and emails can now also display alerts from apps that utilize it.

Also new is kid’s corner that basically allows for a separate home screen with it’s own theme populated with apps and games that you can select for your kids and thus not have them accidentally interfere with your apps. Parents (myself included) will certainly appreciate this as there have been times when my iPhone’s icons have vanished or rearranged because my daughters wanted to make it look nice.


Coming to the main home screen, you can see that tile sizes can be arranged between small, medium and large giving you a lot of flexibility in arranging how the tiles look and behave on Windows Phone 8. While I think folders would be a good idea to have on the home screen for better organizing of your apps and data, the smaller tiles provide a good stop-gap solution.


The biggest change is one that you will not see and that is Windows Phone has now moved to the same kernel that is used for the desktop version of Windows. While not there yet, I can see the RT version of Windows and Windows Phone 8 sharing identical code. Microsoft has also made a lot of other changes that will make programs work much better- especially when it comes to VoiP. If you have used Skype on Windows Phone 7.5, you know how awful of an experience it is but with Windows Phone 8, you’ll finally be able to receive background notifications with apps like Skype.

Microsoft has also made good progress on localization of Windows Phone with Arabic now being natively supported by the phone which will surely give Windows Phone a good boost in the region. From typing to the UI, Arabic can now be selected as your default language.

While Windows Phone provides a good set of basic apps, Nokia makes additional applications available for owners of its mobile devices. Some of the major applications include Nokia Maps and Nokia drive+ that supposedly work much better than Microsoft’s built-in navigation. I say supposedly because I haven't tested any other Windows Phone 8 device. Though what I can tell you is that the local scout from Microsoft does not pull any restaurants or places close to me while Nokia’s City Lens app showed me a lot more about my area.

Apps also continue to be the major weakness with Windows Phone. Many of the apps that I am used to on my iPhone or Android such as Instagram or Flipboard are just not present on Windows Phone yet. I also don’t see Google providing much support in terms of apps on Windows Phone and considering how big of presence they have online, a native YouTube, Gmail or Maps app from them makes the Windows Phone feel a bit incomplete. On the other hand, if you are tied to Microsoft Office and services, then you will not find a better phone.

Camera


Nokia has labelled the camera on the Lumia 920 as part of the PureView family. Before the Lumia, the only device that featured a PureView camera was the Nokia 808 with it’s impressive 41MP sensor. While the Lumia 920 does not feature that 41MP sensor, it does have a superb 8.7 MP camera that excels at low-light and shake-free photography. It’s the first phone in the world with an optical image stabilizer that helps take clearer photos and videos.


What I do want to stress on is that although the Lumia 920 has an exceptional camera, don’t expect it to take a stellar picture every single time. Like most cameras, you will need to put in a bit of time and thought to get a really good picture and the results you will get will be better than any other phone camera in low-light conditions. Under the bright sun, the Lumia still takes very good pictures but the difference between it and, say the iPhone 5, is not highly noticeable.

Battery Life


Battery life turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag on Lumia 920. It features a Li-Ion 2000 mAh capacity battery that should provide you with a full work day of juice but that largely depends on how you use the phone. I’ve had days when Lumia lasted me from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed but I’ve also had days when the phone was dead by 3PM. From what I can tell, camera and GPS suck the most battery life which is a bit of a let-down considering how good of a camera is present on the Lumia and Nokia Maps work well in the region.

Conclusion


While I have only played along with Windows Phone 8 devices by HTC and Samsung at events, I am willing to bet that the Lumia 920 will turn out to be the best Windows Phone 8 device- the construction quality is superb and the camera is second to none when it comes to low-light photography. Windows Phone now finally supports Arabic and Windows Store has also made if to the region. Add on that the fresh UI and how beautifully it flows beautifully, Microsoft has manage to put together most of the pieces of the puzzle well.

Of course no device is perfect and the Lumia 920 has a few shortfalls. The bulky form factor and weight of the device will not make you the envy of some other newer phone users while the erratic battery life is cause of concern. App selection is also one of the weakest links of Windows Phone and unfortunately, he only solution to that is increasing the user base. I’m sure Microsoft is working over-time on that and Nokia will also continue tweaking the software on the Lumia 920 to make it the hero device that that Windows Phone is looking for.
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